Paul plays through knee pain, helps Clippers outlast Wolves
LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul could barely get up and down the court without limping on his injured knee, let alone get to the rim.
He could only play a supporting role in the Clippers’ latest win as a playmaker — and it turns out CP3 is pretty good at that.
J.J. Redick scored 26 points, DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 17 rebounds, and injury-depleted Los Angeles snapped a two-game skid with an 89-76 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
Austin Rivers scored 13 points as the Clippers overcame the absences of Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford along with Paul’s relative immobility. One day after a road loss to Pacific Division-leading Golden State, Los Angeles earned a comfortable victory with just two combined points from its top three scorers this season.
Paul went 1 for 6 with four turnovers, but the NBA’s assists leader still racked up 15 assists while playing 29 minutes on a bruised knee.
"It just shows how good D.J. can dunk and J.J. can shoot," Paul said. "I couldn’t be as aggressive as I would like to. It just shows the depth of our team. … I’ve just got to be smart about it. I don’t want to hurt the team, but if I can contribute and help the team, we need all the bodies we can get."
Matt Barnes scored 13 points on his 35th birthday as the Clippers got their first victory in their last three games, which have all been played without the injured Griffin and Crawford. Griffin has missed 13 straight games due to surgery to remove a staph infection from his right elbow, while Crawford is out with a bruised right calf.
Redick stepped up with three 3-pointers, while Jordan went 10 for 11 with tenacious post play. Both veterans praised Paul’s willingness to play hurt.
"He’s playing on one leg, and he had 15 assists," Redick said. "(Minnesota) didn’t really figure it out until the third quarter."
Adreian Payne had 16 points and 15 rebounds while starting in place of Kevin Garnett for the Timberwolves, who opened a four-game road trip with their fifth loss in six games.
Minnesota has lost 12 straight to the Clippers since February 2012.
"We just didn’t come out with enough energy today," Payne said. "We’ve just got to continue to keep fighting and keep playing through the whole game. We have a lot of talent, and we’ve got a high ceiling."
Nikola Pekovic had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Andrew Wiggins had 11 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
Garnett sat out to rest for the Timberwolves, postponing his latest meeting with Clippers coach Doc Rivers. They led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 title during six seasons together.
Without Garnett under the hoop, Jordan threw down his usual array of gravity-flouting dunks, including an alley-oop from Paul that staked Los Angeles to a 12-point lead midway through the third quarter. Los Angeles gradually increased its lead in the fourth, never facing a significant surge by Minnesota.
"We played a little selfish and didn’t move the ball," said Ricky Rubio, who had two points and 12 assists. "Against a team like that, you pay for it. They got too many easy baskets with DeAndre dwelling under the basket. … We didn’t have a chance because we were playing selfish."
Timberwolves: The Staples Center crowd, not realizing Garnett was being rested, loudly chanted, "We want KG!" in the waning minutes. … Minnesota lost 110-105 to the Clippers last Monday in Minneapolis. … Minnesota was unable to secure its second winning streak of the season.
Clippers: Paul has no idea how much he’ll play on the upcoming two-game road trip. … Nate Robinson went 1 for 9 in his second game with the Clippers, who signed him last week. … The Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski attended the game and brought down the house with his rump-shaking participation in the Clippers’ Dance Cam on the video board.
The franchise held a halftime tribute to longtime broadcaster Ralph Lawler, who is in his 36th season with the Clippers. Several former players participated in a midcourt presentation, including Marques Johnson, Lamond Murray, Pooh Richardson, Keyon Dooling, Norm Nixon, Corey Maggette and coach Gene Shue. "I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this," Lawler said. "I just show up for work every day."
Timberwolves: Wednesday at Phoenix.
Clippers: Wednesday at Oklahoma City.